Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Wayfarer

By Keith N Fisher

I grew up during a time when nobody locked doors. Well, we sometimes locked the house, before leaving on a trip or extended visit elsewhere. We didn’t worry about picking up hitchhikers, and beggars were truly needy.

Whatever the cause, the world has changed. We lock everything, even if we’re only going to be gone for a second. We lock the door in traffic to prevent carjacking. We’ve learned that I’ll work for food isn’t always true, and hitchhikers can be a threat. There is one, however, who beckons.

When I think back, trying to analyze how we got to this point, I come up with many factors. Not the least of which, is our media addiction.

I know many people will take exception, but when we were kids, we looked to the media for direction. Hairstyles, dress, and even our taste in music was influenced by those we watched, read about, and listened to.

The funny thing is the fact that it’s always been that way. In the late nineteenth century, Brigham Young addressed the problem of young women following the trends from back east. In answer to it, he and his peers created the Young Women’s Retrenchment Association. It was the forerunner of the Mutual Improvement Association in the LDS Church, and is now simply Young Women’s and Young Men’s.

The point here is that even in the isolation of Utah in the eighteen hundreds, media influence was prominent in shaping our society.

Now, before you start thinking I’m condemning the media, you should know I’m a writer. I want to be one of those influences.

Today, we take our cues from myriad sources. Each one adds another piece to how we think, feel, and act. No, I’m not suggesting we’re sheep following every would be trendsetter, I’m suggesting it has an effect. Even if it only influences our reaction to a man holding a sign asking for a ride. But, there is One, Who beckons.

We live in a scary world because we made it that way. We watch a scenario played out on a TV crime show, and lock our doors against that ever happening to us. We see plenty in real life, too. How many of you have seen a person holding a sign saying, I’ll work for food and noticed the food donations, hidden away so the person can pursue the real purpose of panhandling money from sympathetic souls. After all, there is one, who beckons.

Then there is the person in need, whose car breaks down but we don’t dare stop and help because we’ve heard stories of people being carjacked, or worse. One day, I figured I could use all the good karma I could get, so I helped a couple of guys and was struck by their gratitude. The inference in that is clear. Very few of us will stop and help. Now, if the truth were known, I had second thoughts. What if they pulled a gun and stole my truck?

As writers, we must be careful. The proverbial Pandora’s Box was opened long ago and can’t be closed. What we choose to write, however, can be a haven from the storm. In a world with highly dramatic TV programs and books that offer more of the same, we can’t ignore all of it in our writing. Much of what we write will echo the media or we won’t be read, but we can control where the emphasis is placed, and to what extent we pursue the negative.

You see there is a Man, a Wayfarer, who beckons us to take him in. He struggles to strengthen our hearts. He will provide shelter from the storm, peace in a trouble world. He can use our help. Every writer, actor, and newspaperman has been given a talent. We can use that talent to follow the crowd, or we can do our part to enrich our brothers and sisters.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

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